Categories : Narration, Workshop webdoc

14 Dec

Prison Valley at a workshop in Finland

Our producer’s gone to Helsinki for three days. For a workshop about new forms of narration. Alexandre Brachet gives his first impressions.

Sunday 9th December, 9 o’clock in the morning. A few snowflakes are falling over Montreuil as I get into the taxi that’ll take me to Charles de Gaulle.

I’m off to Helsinki to take part in a workshop on web documentaries organised by YLE, the Finnish public television station.

In my luggage, I’ve got the documents we’ll be discussing in Helsinki, some mittens and hats of course, but also a useful culinary tip I received from Pierre Haski just before I took off. A good start.

This workshop was dreamt up by Iikka Vehkalahti, the head of YLE’s documentary unit, who is passionate about the interactive revolution that could sweep through the documentary industry in the coming years.

Overt there, I’m going to meet up with my fellow producer Arik Bernstein (who co-produced Gaza Sderot) and Brett Gaylor, the guy who produced and directed the lampoon ‘Rip: The Manifesto’, in part thanks to funds collected on The three of us know each other well and I’m excited about seeing them again. I’m also looking forward to meeting Bruno from Submarine, a Dutch production company often compared to Upian. That’s also what I think web documentaries are about – a window on the world that opens a little wider every day.

11.25. The plane has reached cruising speed and the 35 kids from a company holiday camp sitting right behind me have calmed down now, so I can start reading the projects we’re going to talk about tomorrow.

  1. Ground Zero (a web documentary that shows how people who’ve been affected by a natural disaster gradually rebuild their lives)
  2. Story Tent Through Europe (stories from all over Europe with – if I’ve understood properly – various interactive possibilities at this stage; there’s lots of stuff about rooms in the presentation).
  3. Phone Booth (a scheme in Israel and Palestine combining Skype and telephone booths)
  4. 45 Women in the World (‘What’s wrong with men’ – stories of 45-year-old women from around the world)
  5. Stringer (a web documentary consisting of thousands of films made by Afghans)
  6. Stories of World (a collaborative platform of stories by the man and woman in the street)
  7. The Night of Art (the equivalent of France’s ‘Nuit Blanche’ in Finland, whose presentation starts with the words “Inspired by Woodstock and Prison Valley”)
  8. The War (more about Afghanistan, more cell phones, but this time stories by the soldiers of many different countries on the ground. A mix of pro and amateur film.)

6.17 pm. I drink a cup of hot tea with milk because it’s freezing outside. There’s a nasty little wind that whips up the snow and takes it on a winding path between your warm scarf and down jacket before dropping it right down your neck. Lovely.

Au coin de la rue, un atelier sur les webdocumentaires. Helsinki, Fiinlande.

Street corner. A workshop on web documentaries. Helsinki, Finland.

<h1>Logging in to film</h1>

I expect a lot of these three days. I think that disconnecting from your usual surroundings is the best way of imagining new forms of storytelling. Because that’s the aim here – to invent ways of telling new stories. The workshop will go on for two days. And during these two days, we’ll share our experiences, with no competition and no pitches, just a little vodka and a lot of saunas.

I start my speech by presenting Gaza Sderot with Arik. Then we move on to discussing interfaces and formats:

Gaza Sderot and Havana Miami – or the example of how the same format can take completely different forms. And, of course, Prison Valley, this new format created by the Brault/Dufresne/Brothier trio, an attempt to combine documentary film and interactivity. By the way, when we talk about Prison Valley among ourselves, we often use the term ‘logging in to the film’. That’s right. You have to log into the film.

Dans la nuit finlandaise

Night time in Finland

This is a good time to point you to three other interesting posts, one about changes in online press, another about fragmenting audiences, and the third about the impact of social networks.

And, as always, here’s another original postcard of Prison Valley.